After a two week break, Formula 1 returns this weekend with the Malaysian Grand Prix as the first race in a double-header with the Bahrain Grand Prix. Following his dominant victory in Australia, Nico Rosberg is looking to equal his father’s tally of five grand prix victories this weekend, and it is hard to write off the German driver given the pace of the Mercedes W05 car.
However, Rosberg will have to be wary of the challenge posed by teammate Lewis Hamilton, who was forced to retire after just three laps in Australia due to an engine problem. The Briton will be looking to make up for lost time this weekend, as will defending world champion Sebastian Vettel following his own retirement down under.
You also have to consider the likes of Daniel Ricciardo, Valtteri Bottas, Felipe Massa and Jenson Button as possible race winners, whilst rookie Kevin Magnussen will be hoping to build upon his second place finish in Australia.
Finally, there’s that ever-present factor in Malaysia: the weather. This race has always been held in monsoon season, meaning that rain can strike at any time.
2014 Malaysian Grand Prix – Talking Points
Just how quick is Mercedes?
How much has really changed in Formula 1 over the winter? Once again in Australia, a German driver won the race with relative ease (albeit in a different car… and it was a different German…). Nico Rosberg seem rather relaxed when winning the race down under, like it was a formality. Will he and teammate Lewis Hamilton enter battle with each other this weekend for the race win?
Rookies hope to continue good form
Having made their debuts in Australia, Kevin Magnussen and Daniil Kvyat will be hoping for more of the same after both scoring points at Albert Park. In second place, Magnussen claimed the best result for a driver on debut since 1996, whilst Kvyat picked up some good points in ninth place, and even hassled Kimi Raikkonen for position at one point. Marcus Ericsson’s debut ended prematurely due to an oil pressure problem, but he too will be encouraged by his maiden Formula 1 outing.
Can Red Bull bounce back from fuelgate?
Everything has a -gate nowadays, and this is no exception. Following Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification from the Australian Grand Prix (which has been appealed), Red Bull needs a good weekend in Malaysia to avoid losing any more ground as the team bids for a fifth straight world title. The car is quick, certainly, but it needs to see the finish line if it is to give the team any points.
Bottas and Massa are the dark horses
With 19 overtakes, Valtteri Bottas provided a good chunk of the action in Australia, and it was a joy to watch him race. Had he not made contact with the wall when chasing Kimi Raikkonen, he may well have finished on the podium. Alongside teammate Felipe Massa (who retired at turn one), Bottas is a dark horse to give Williams a podium finish that would undoubtedly underline its pace for the coming year.
The Malaysian Grand Prix will be a rather subdued event this weekend following the recent disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. A number of teams will run with tributes on their cars, and a minute’s silence is expected to be held ahead of the race on Sunday.
Track: Sepang International Circuit, Sepang (5.3km)
Lap Record: Juan Pablo Montoya 1:34.223 (2004)
Tire Compounds: Medium (Option); Hard (Prime)
2013 Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2012 Pole Position: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2012 Fastest Lap: Sergio Perez (McLaren) – 1:39.199
DRS Zones: Main straight (T15 to T1); T14 to T15